Rhetorical Devices

A personal appeal
An ethical appeal
Speaks to character
"If, in my low moments, in word, deed or attitude, through
some error of temper, taste, or tone, I have caused anyone
discomfort, created pain, or revived someone's fears, that
was not my truest self. If there were occasions when my
grape turned into a raisin and my joy bell lost its
resonance, please forgive me. Charge it to my head and not
to my heart. My head--so limited in its finitude; my heart,
which is boundless in its love for the human family. I am
not a perfect servant. I am a public servant doing my best
against the odds."
(Jesse Jackson, Democratic National Convention Keynote
Address, 1984)
To Develop Ethos
Language appropriate to audience
and subject
Restrained, sincere, fair minded
Appropriate level of vocabulary
Correct grammar
 An emotional appeal
 Emotions range from mild to intense; some, such as well-being,
are gentle attitudes and outlooks, while others, such as sudden
fury, are so intense that they overwhelm rational thought.
 Example:
"A brilliant young woman I know was asked once to support
her argument in favor of social welfare. She named the
most powerful source imaginable: the look in a mother's
face when she cannot feed her children. Can you look that
hungry child in the eyes? See the blood on his feet from
working barefoot in the cotton fields. Or do you ask his
baby sister with her belly swollen from hunger if she cares
about her daddy's work ethics?"
(Nate Parker as Henry Lowe in The Great Debaters, 2007)
To Appeal to Emotion (Pathos)
 Vivid, concrete language
 Emotionally loaded language
 Connotative meanings
 Emotional examples
 Vivid descriptions
 Narratives of emotional events
 Emotional tone
 Figurative language
 Appeal to logic
 Persuasion by means of logical proof, real or apparent
 Example:
“Let us begin with a simple proposition: What democracy requires
is public debate, not information. Of course it needs
information too, but the kind of information it needs can be
generated only by vigorous popular debate. We do not know
what we need to know until we ask the right questions, and we
can identify the right questions only by subjecting our ideas
about the world to the test of public controversy. Information,
usually seen as the precondition of debate, is better understood
as its by product. When we get into arguments that focus and
fully engage our attention, we become avid seekers of relevant
information. Otherwise, we take in information passively--if we
take it in at all.”
Christopher Lasch, "The Lost Art of Political Argument"
To Appeal to Logic (Logos)
 Theoretical, abstract language
 Denotative meanings/reasons
 Literal and historical analogies
 Definitions
 Factual data and statistics
 Quotations
 Citations from experts and authorities
 Informed opinions